Syria opposition activist, daughter found dead in Istanbul: report

Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Turkey has become home to almost three million Syrian refugees, many of them opponents of the Assad regime. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2017
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Syria opposition activist, daughter found dead in Istanbul: report

ISTANBUL: A senior Syrian opposition activist and her journalist daughter have been found dead at their apartment in Istanbul, the Dogan news agency reported on Friday.
Friends raised the alarm after being unable to reach Aroubeh Barakat and her daughter Halla Barakat by telephone, the news agency said.
Turkish police then arrived at their apartment in the Uskudar district on the Asian side of Istanbul and found both women dead. Unconfirmed reports said that their throats had been cut.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Turkey has become home to almost three million Syrian refugees, many of them opponents of the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Aroubeh Barakat’s sister Shaza also confirmed the deaths in a Facebook post, saying the two “were assassinated at the hands of injustice and tyranny.” She said that they had been stabbed to death.
She said her sister had opposed the Assad regime from the 1980s going back to the rule of Bashar Assad’s father Hafez.
The Yeni Safak daily said Aroubeh Barakat had carried out investigations into alleged torture in prisons run by the Assad regime.
It said she had initially lived in Britain, then the United Arab Emirates before coming to Istanbul.
Syrian activist Rami Jarrah wrote on Facebook that the family believes the killing could be due to Aroubeh’s opposition activities.
Halla Barakat, 22, was working for a website called Orient News and had also for a time worked for Turkish state broadcaster TRT.
Syrian opposition activists and journalists have repeatedly complained of threats to their security.
Two Syrian journalists from the city of Raqqa who were opposed to the Daesh extremist group and were found beheaded in southern Turkey in 2015.


Assad calls on Syria’s Druze minority to do military service

Updated 14 November 2018
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Assad calls on Syria’s Druze minority to do military service

  • Since the conflict erupted in 2011, thousands of Druze, especially those in Sweida, have refused to be conscripted, instead joining local militias promising to protect the region
  • The main way the Druze community could support the army was to do military service, Assad said

DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar Assad has called on the country’s Druze community to do military service, days after members of the minority were released following a mass abduction in July by the Daesh group.
Sweida province is the heartland of Syria’s Druze minority, who made up around three percent of the country’s pre-war population — or around 700,000 people.
Since the conflict erupted in 2011, thousands of Druze, especially those in Sweida, have refused to be conscripted, instead joining local militias promising to protect the region.
Damascus has so far turned a blind eye as long as the Druze militias do not ally with rebel groups.
Speaking to a group of former hostages and their families on Tuesday, Assad thanked the army, saying that without them “the abducted people would not have been freed.”
“We owe a great debt to (the army) and as for you... your responsibility is even greater,” he said in a video published on the presidency’s official Telegram account.
The main way the Druze community could support the army was to do military service, Assad added.
The Druze, followers of a secretive offshoot of Islam, are considered heretics by the Sunni extremists of Daesh.
Daesh militants abducted about 30 people — mostly women and children — from Sweida in late July during the deadliest attack on the Druze during the Syrian civil war.
Some of the hostages died while others were freed last month in a prisoner swap. The remaining 19, mostly women and children, were released last week.
Before the war began, Syrian men aged 18 and older had to serve up to two years in the army, after which they became reserves available for call-up in times of crisis.
In the past seven years, fatalities, injuries and defections are estimated to have halved the once 300,000-strong army.
To compensate, the force has relied on reservists and militias as well as indefinitely extending military service for young conscripts.